What if I told you that you could reach a whole bunch of new people with your blog, people who hadn’t heard of you before? What if I told you there was a way to expand the range of relevant topics you cover on your blog? Well there is. A guest blogging program may be hard work but it can help you grow your blog.
Listen below for my guide to putting together a guest blogging program
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A few weeks ago in episode 51 I talked about guest posting and how you might go about submitting your own guest posts to other sites. Today I want to flip that and look at why it might be a good idea to allow guest posts on your own site.
Why is a guest blogging program a good idea?
If you are a small business or organisation the chances are that you produce all the content for your blog. This is great as it gives your brand a unique voice and you have complete control.
However, being a single author can be limiting. By inviting guest posts from a handpicked group of quality writers you can expand your reach, drive new visitors to your site and those writers will lend their authority to your business.
It seems like a bit of a no brainer, get other people to write content and you’ll save loads of time right? Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Choosing the right writers, ensuring they submit quality content on time and editing that content is almost as time-consuming as writing your own stuff.
The first question you need to ask yourself is, does the value of getting people to write for you outweigh the time and effort it takes to manage guest submissions?
If the answer is yes read on.
The next step is to define your goals. What will allowing guest blog posts do for your blog and your business?
- Do you want to reach a new audience? If so who do you want to reach?
- Do you want to increase traffic to your site? If so what type of traffic is relevant to you?
- Do you want to build brand awareness? If so how will you measure this?
- Do you want to share information that is outside your knowledge base but will benefit your readers and customers?
The answers to these questions will help you choose your guest bloggers and topics.
Now you know what you want to achieve start looking for people who you would like to contribute to your site. Remember, ideally you are looking for people who have a good social presence that reaches an audience that you want to target.
Before you approach anyone, remember you are looking for people who are already in the habit of writing. I made the mistake early on in my blog of approaching people who had knowledge but didn’t write on a regular basis. This resulted in deadlines being missed and a lack of quality in the submitted posts.
You should be looking for people with blogs, who write regular posts for other publications or who write lengthy LinkedIn posts.
Finding value in your existing connections
Start with your own network, who are the other bloggers that you know? Does their content and style fit your blog? Whose content do you share on a regular basis? If it’s good enough to share with your audience a contribution from them will also add value.
Who are you connected to on LinkedIn that uses LinkedIn publishing? Are they publishing content that would appeal to your ideal reader? If so put them on the list.
Looking beyond your network
Now it’s time to look beyond your network. Search Google for people blogging in niches that will attract your target market.
When we talked about looking for guest posting opportunities on other sites, I recommended looking for blogs that have a higher DA (domain authority) than you. When you are looking for contributors for your own site you can flip that. If you find quality writers with a lower DA than you you have something valuable to offer them, an inbound link from your site.
You’d be mad to turn down posts from bloggers with a higher domain authority but you will have less to offer them than those with a lower ranking.
Create a wish list of bloggers you’d like to contribute. Use Google sheets or excel to keep track of their names, their blog or website, their social channels their email address and the dates you’ve made contact. This will help you manage contributors later on.
Making guest blogging an attractive proposition
You can approach the people you know straight away but you’ll need to build relationships with those you don’t know already. using Twitter, LinkedIn, blog commenting and other social networks.
Now you have selected your writers it’s time to approach them. You may choose to contact your LinkedIn connections via LinkedIn but for the rest, email is the best approach. In some cases, you might send a direct message on Twitter or via their Facebook page but be ready to follow up with an email.
Remember, someone who writes for your site is spending a lot of time creating a post for you. You need to make it look like an attractive proposition. Think about what is in it for them.
- Does it offer them exposure to an audience they don’t already reach?
- Will it help establish them as an expert?
- Will an inbound link from within the content be valuable to them and their site
Think of your offer like a business transaction. In exchange for a blog post, this is what your contributor will get in return. And don’t forget to appeal to their ego. You should know enough about your prospects now that you can compliment them on content they’ve created and tell them how you and your audience have found it useful in the past.
Make a note of the date that you send the request in your spreadsheet and set yourself a reminder to follow it up if you don’t hear back from them.
Create a guest bloggers pack
When someone agrees to post for you, it’s a good idea to send them a short document or link to a page on your site that outlines the basics.
This should include
- What types of posts you are looking for: Include examples of the types of posts that you want and what they contain that makes them relevant. Also, let people know what posts aren’t relevant to your blog.
- How to submit your post: Will you give them a login for your site or do you need them to send it as a word document?
- What you require: How many words long do you need the post to be (minimum and maximum)? Do you need the writer to submit their own images? If so what is the requirement?
- Bio: Do you need contributors to submit a bio? If so what should be included? Do you need a photo? How many words are included in the bio? Can this include a link to their site?
- Inbound links within content: Are people allowed to link to their own sites from within the post itself? If so what sort of link is acceptable and make sure they know that you have editors discretion to remove links.
I love Hubspot’s guest blogging guidelines, they’d make a great template for anyone wanting to create their own.
Creating a guest blogging schedule
All going well you should now have a list of bloggers that are ready and willing to contribute to your site. Now you need to create a schedule.
How many guest posts per month do you want to allow on your site? Depending on how frequently you blog, and how much time you want to put into your guest posting programme you may want to include one guest post per month of one per week.
Set up publication dates in a calendar (I use Google calendar for this). When you have identified a blogger offer them a submission date. This date should be at least two days before you are planning publication as you will need to edit it, format it and add images. You may also build in extra time in case they are late submitting.
Keep in touch with the blogger in the run up to their submission date. Check in with them to make sure they are on track and ask if they need your help in any way.
An alternative to guest blogging
All this work may put you off the idea of accepting guest posts altogether. But there’s an alternative. Instead of inviting guest bloggers, interview them.
Although the process for finding interviewees is similar to finding guest bloggera you will get a far better response. Participating in an interview seems like less work than writing a post from scratch. It’s a more appealing prospect.
The standard way of conducting a blog interview is to send out a list of questions and ask the interviewee to reply with their answers. Although this is a quick and easy method you might find that the answers are a bit stilted, it also robs you of the opportunity to delve further into their answers.
To get a more natural interview record it either in person or via Skype. This will add a more conversational tone to your post and you’ll get fuller responses.
The problem with this method is that you’ll need to transcribe these interviews and this can be a time-consuming process. If you aren’t a great typist REV is a service that offers transcriptions for an affordable price. Thanks to Ian Cleary for pointing that service out to me.
Should you do it?
Getting people to write content for your site could be a good way to broaden your audience. The people who contribute are lending you their expertise and authority but, it’s a lot of hard work. If you embark on a guest blogging programme make sure you are regimented in your approach and allow enough time for finding, chasing and editing guest bloggers.
Is a guest blogging program for you? If so here’s your challenges:
- Start building a list of possible contributors to your site
- Write a guest post starter pack
- Create a schedule for your guest posts
Before You Go
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